Lore Writing: ~25%
Character Art: 0%
Background Art: 0%
Ideal Length: ~100,000-300,000 words (15-20 hours)
The Knights of Volère, the preeminent knightly order of the Kingdom of Léonnes, have been massacred nearly to the last by their own countrymen. But the question remains—why? A band of four survivors, led by the First Shield of the order, Ser Renaud Robiquet, flees through the snowbound wilderness in disguise on a quest for answers, and revenge. There is no question about the fact that they have been framed—but by whom? Their pursuers, masked knights bearing an unfamiliar device, might lead them to the root of their inquiries. Their journey takes them across the face of Léonnes, into the high halls of power, and through the deep darkness of their own pasts. For those bound by honor and custom there is no escape. The Knights of Volère must fight to clear their names, or face their noble end at the hands of their pursuers.
Ser Imogène fa Ilfance, the Lady of the Lance
"How much more of this can we bear?"
Ser Imogène is one of the younger members of the Knights of Volère, but in her time she has shown her valor. She placed second in the mêlée at Oriflamme in 859 N.O.C., launched a number of successful raids on the Cadalites, and was hand-selected by Renaud Robiquet for the rescue of Grandmaster Odo. In only a handful of years, though coming from lowly merchant stock, she has risen high in the regard of the Knights of Volère. She is known for her quick wit, bawdy tongue, skill as an equestrian, and love of good wine; yet she is widely respected likewise for her spirit, noble bearing, and compassion towards others. She is often called upon to settle disputes between members of the Order due to her strong reasoning, clear thinking, and persuasive argumentation; because of this, she is sometimes referred to as "the Judge". Over time she has developed a close relationship with Renaud, which has led to rumors of illicit conduct between the two. In truth, however, Imogène idolizes Renaud, and sees him as something of a mentor. She is grievously wounded at a certain point in the company's journey, and must suffer the consequences throughout the rest of the story. Although this is more of an ensemble cast, Imogène is perhaps the most deserving of being called the protagonist—she is the narrator, recounting the tale some thirty years after the fact, and much of the plot centers upon her.
Ser Renaud Robiquet, the Chevalier of the Harvest Moon
"Belief is life."
The First Shield of the Knights of Volère, known as the Chevalier of the Harvest Moon, Renaud is the second son of a minor noble house in the western reaches of the Rose Coast, and one of the most renown knights of the realm. He is primarily known for his heroic and death defying cavalry charge against the Cadalite nomads at the Battle of Hot River, which earned him promotion in the Knights of Volère and acclaim at court in Gran Léo. His subsequent duel against the Count of Figo, his dashing display at the autumn Games at Oriflamme of 851 N.O.C., his promotion to the status of First Shield, and, the jewel in the crown, his appointment as the personal guardian of the Queen Yolande, made him the toast of the kingdom. But events conspired against him—Yolande died, the Istrids came into power, the Cadalites kidnapped the aging Grandmaster Odo, and the Knights of Volère were caught in a snare that threatens to bring about their total demise. Renaud is a stoic sort of man, and devoted to his principles nearly to the point of self-flagellation. He strives to be the very paragon honor, loyalty, righteousness, and, yes, chivalry, perhaps as a natural reaction to his somewhat tumultuous childhood, suffering at the hands of an autocratic, cruel mother and an indifferent father. Beneath the façade of the intrepid knight lies a tortured man torn apart by circumstance. The Knights of Volère's quest to discover who framed them and why is the crucible in which his beliefs will be tested. Will loyalty, honor, and righteousness reign supreme over selfishness, treachery, cynicism, and avarice? For Renaud theirs is as much a conflict of ideology as it is of life and death. To him there exists no distinction: belief is life, and life is belief. Without it there is only death.
Ser Fabrice Bardin, the Knight of the Lamp
"Don't you have something you're living for? Why throw it all away?"
Ser Fabrice is one of the lesser members of the Knights of Volère, though still well respected. He earned his appellation, "the Knight of the Lamp", after managing to fend off a group of Cadalite raiders who had stolen into the Order's camp with nothing but a sputtering lamp and his undergarments while awaiting aid from his fellows. He is temperate, and known to have an air of snobbishness, but he accepts criticism and insult with good humor, making him popular as the butt of certain jokes. He now always rides with a lamp attached to his saddle, though he no longer uses it to fight, instead preferring to wield his large morningstar.
Ser Desmon, the Knight of Dusk
"Revenge is not anything to live for."
Though one of the oldest members of the Knights of Volère, Ser Desmon is neither well known nor entirely well regarded. He is frigid in manner, gruff, unwieldily blunt, and more often than not he reeks of alcohol. Little is known of Ser Desmon's past, though it is said that he comes from a noble family (he does not readily reveal his surname for this reason), and that in his day he was a widely renowned chevalier and fearsome tourney fighter. He earned his epithet, "the Knight of Dusk", after his epic mêlée with Ser Teobald Hoche, the Red Star, which lasted from shortly after dawn till, finally, Ser Desmon emerged victorious as the last rays of the sun were fading on the horizon. Indeed, though middle-aged, his physique is still powerful. His weapon of choice is a massive claymore which even some of the strongest men of the Order are unable to wield. Despite some of these qualities, which normally might make him an object of interest, his generally brutish attitude and the unsavory rumors that hang about him ward off any potential investigators. It is said that, at some point in his career in the Order, he experienced a "fall from grace", though just what that fall entailed is not known.
Roméo Hondelle, Marquis of Façé
"There is one ruling principle in this world: with power, one can make miracles happen. Armies march; coin is minted; cities are built; mountains are moved with the wave of a hand. Good things, evil things—anything."
Roméo Hondelle is the young head of House Hondelle of Façé, a once-prosperous castle town in western Léonnes, and is widely recognized as the rising star of the realm. He is an accomplished polymath—a scholar (particularly of folklore, astronomy, and the occult), a poet, an able swordsman, and handsome to boot. Roméo "has it all", including the confidence of the newly ordained King Larsa of House Istrid. He lacks, however, one rather important thing—wealth, and consequently, power. Though in better days it exerted considerable strategic and commercial influence in the kingdom, in the past century or so Façé has fallen on hard times. A string of flamboyant and profligate lords has left the once relatively affluent House Hondelle nigh penniless, forcing them to auction off many of their ancestral fiefdoms to make up the costs. No matter how brilliant or handsome, Roméo's dearth of coin has left him out in the cold in the arena of noble marriages. But despite his dire straits, and despite his bastard son Maurice (a suitable heir if no proper wife can be found), Roméo's ambition is relentless; his eyes peer ever upward, towards greater and greater heights, and there is little that he is not willing to do to achieve his ends.
Larsa Hogimbas Istrid, King of Léonnes
King Larsa appears mostly off-screen over the course of the story, but his influence is felt everywhere. The first king of House Istrid, a cadet branch of the erstwhile ruling House Dalphès from the scarcely-populated east, the Istrids are widely considered to be foreigners, even barbarians. The first two years of his reign have been fraught with discord, both internally and externally. Few of the elder noble houses have cooperated with the Crown, despite frequent calls to action against the Cadalite raiders and the rebellion of the Doyenne in the north, and all press for ever greater autonomy. On the other hand, younger and less powerful houses jostle for the new King's regard, something that might grant them advantage over the titans of the realm, like dogs begging for scraps at the master's table. Through all of this King Larsa has shown little leadership or competence; indeed, he has hardly shown himself at all, spending most of his time in the citadel of Fa Lasse in Gran Léo with his family and councilors, including the brilliant Roméo Hondelle, and rarely venturing out. Little is known of him, and what is known only bolsters the aura of enigma that surrounds him.
Abelard fa Vontole, Count of Figo
Abelard is the young Count of Figo, an important city along the River Lorentin in south-central Léonnes, just north of the Cinnamon Coast. He is well-regarded throughout for his able administration of Figo, which has flowered under his rule, and martial feats in the campaigns against the Cadalites. However, his past is checkered, and a decade or so ago he was the subject of much gossip in the court for his effrontery and recklessness. All this climaxed in a now infamous duel with Ser Renaud Robiquet, in which he was defeated in the first thirty seconds of mêlée. However, afterwards he and Renaud became great friends, and continue to be to this day.
Queen Yolande-Ninone Dalphès Jaspolle, or Yolande Dalphès II[deceased]
"If I must love you, then please—let me die."
The last queen of House Dalphès, Yolande was a sickly woman who lived almost her entire life secluded in her apartments. She was, however, born into House Jaspolle, one of the preeminent noble houses in all of Léonnes, and thus she was wed, unhappily, to King Innes IV, known also as "The Sighing King". However, after two miscarriages, both of which she hardly survived, it became apparent that Yolande's infirmities would not produce an heir, and King Innes set about searching for a healthier wife. In the meantime, however, she became pregnant once more, raising the King's hopes; but, as had been foreseen, this was no different than the others, and Yolande died in childbirth in 860 N.O.C. The line of House Dalphès was extinguished not long afterwards with the unexpected death of King Innes, and the rule of House Istrid began. Despite her short and tragic life, she was guarded by Ser Renaud Robiquet, the most famous knight in all of Léonnes.
Other than writing and directing the whole shebang, I'll also be composing the soundtrack. Although I'm still at an early point in development, I'm already hard at work on the music. In my view, music can make or break a game, not to mention a visual novel, so I consider it to be a central point of development. My greatest musical influences when it comes to composition are video game and film composers like Yasunori Mitsuda, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Austin Wintory, Patrick Doyle, Masashi Hamazu, and Nobuo Uematsu, along with classical composers like Maurice Ravel, John Adams, John Tavener, and Aaron Copland. The soundtrack will be primarily orchestral, and heavily based on various leitmotifs. You can check out new tracks for the OST in this playlist on my composition Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/user-266858343/s ... le-end-ost
And here are a few samples of my previous work:
I've been playing around with the idea, story, and characters for a couple of years now. Originally, this was going to be the story for an SRPG inspired by Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre that a friend and I were talking about working on. As these things tend to do, that quickly fell apart. But I kept the Google Doc where I had jotted down the broad sweep of the story, and I revisited it from time to time, adding a few things here or there, until I became committed to the idea of doing at least something with it. By that time, the way I envisioned the story became too difficult to pull off in the form of a video game, but I also thought that it wouldn't really work as a novel. I wanted the visual and auditory element, and so eventually I decided to start work on this.
The main themes are survival and perseverance, fellowship, the nature of history, idealism vs. cynicism, and free will vs. determinism. It's not the most original fantasy setting (as you can tell it's basically fantasy France with a few exotic elements), but my goal is to tell a memorable story with memorable characters, not to reinvent the wheel. The story overall is fairly bleak and deals with some heavy subject matter, but there will be some moments of lightness as well. I should also note that, despite its appearance, this is not just French Game of Thrones (though that does exist—check out The Accursed Kings series by Maurice Druon). What I mean is that, though the story does involve a lot of political intrigue, and features knights, kings, queens, dukes, counts, peasants (or "smallfolk", to say it in GRRM-speak), sword fights, and etc., this is not an epic. While the geographic scale does become somewhat large, the focus of the story is relatively limited, centering on a small group of four. It is principally concerned with character relationships and the "interior", the thoughts and feelings of the characters, and not with epic battle sequences (though as I said, there are sword fights) and nefarious scheming (there's a fair measure of that as well).
The story will be divided into two parts, and each will be interspersed within the other. One is the story of the Knights of Volère's journey for freedom and revenge. The other will take the form of extended flashbacks—which I'm calling "Tales"—that will delve deeply into the backstory of each of the party members, and will be narrated as their first person POV rather than the rest of the VN, which is narrated by Imogène in a kind of first-person omniscient years after the events of the story. I am not currently planning on having multiple routes, but I might further down the road depending on how things are going.
HOWEVER, unfortunately I am no artist. I haven't discussed this with any artist, nor do I have any sketches or anything beyond character "look" in mind. I'm still on the lookout, though my means of compensation are pretty meager.
Sorry if that was a lot to take in at once! I'm very eager to hear your comments, questions, and critiques!
Is the premise interesting?
Would you read more?
Is there anything specific that you'd like to see?
Do you have any suggestions, questions, criticisms?