Unexpected Inspiration Backstory: Sol & Etri's Past

The crisp snow crunched under Etri's feet in a sickening way reminiscent of the rough gravel floor of the Sanctuary's acolyte quarter. His skin burned every time he sunk into a knee-high drift, the pain a constant reminder of the flames that waited for him should they be caught. His fingers were numb under thin gloves meant for concealment, not warmth, and his robe was nigh-useless outside the cavern city. It had been cold underground-- every day of his life had been spent shivering-- but nothing had prepared him for this overwhelming numbness spreading through his body. If he couldn't find shelter soon, it wouldn't matter that they had escaped. They would die anyway.

-Excerpt from "Stuck With You"

As their lingering accents and pale features can attest, Sol and Etri weren't originally from Concordia. They come from Montglace, a place far to the north where the population lives in a single city deep below the mountainous snow and ice. At one time, long ago, people lived on the surface, but this was so long ago that the rest of the world mostly assumes the population of Montglace died out, if they're reminded of its existence at all. Possibly this would have been for the best, considering what Montglace has become. The twins do not have a happy backstory.

Montglacian culture is dominated by a dual religious order of light and shadow; Sol and Etri were born into and raised by the Sanctuary of Shadow. Within the carved stone walls of the temples, there is no concept of family and children never know who their parents or possible siblings are. Being identical twins granted Etri and Sol some insight, although it took years for them to work this out. While Etri was delivering a message for one of the high ranking priestesses, he came across a mirror for the first time in his life. It was then that it made sense why people had always called him by the wrong name-- he looked identical to one of the other boys. Since their language has no word for brother or twin, the closest they could come up with was "person who looks like me," but this was enough for them to realize the other was important.

Etri's shadow magic manifested soon after this and he was allowed a small room of his own. This offered a little more security from the dangers of the temple, but it meant that it was harder to sneak around to spend time with Sol. In working out a way to do this safely, Etri discovered that his magic could turn his body into a shadow, much like the elementals the priest/esses controlled. This brought its own kind of danger in keeping it secret, but Etri has always been careful. He made sure that they were never caught together and when Sol began showing signs of light magic, Etri made sure no one else found out. If this was discovered, Sol would have been sent to the Sanctuary of Light and it would have been unlikely the two would see each other again. Sol played dumb, which was easy when the priest/esses never guessed he could have light magic and instead only tested his control over shadow elementals. To this day, shadows still terrify Sol.

Only one other person knew the truth about Sol having magic and he took it to the grave... but I'm getting ahead of myself. Sol fell in love with another boy in the temple and this needed just as much care to avoid detection since any kind of relationship was forbidden. Knowing how important this boy was to Sol, Etri took a risk and befriended him. Etri tried his hardest to keep both of them out of trouble, but this wasn't an easy task. Sol had a tendency to become easily distracted and not notice a threat until too late. Pierre constantly talked back to his superiors and made himself a target all too often, usually as he tried to divert someone's attention long enough for Sol to get away. Pierre always stood his ground, refusing to be quiet and accept life as it was in the temple. He hated the Sanctuary and while he and Etri were able to give Sol happiness as best they could, both hated seeing him scared so much of the time. There had to be a way out, even if leaving was forbidden. So the three made plans for Sol and Pierre to sneak out of the city and out of the mountain. Etri disliked the idea of losing the people he cared about, but he knew they would have a better chance of escaping if he stayed behind to distract or try to stop anyone who followed them. With his ability to shift into a shadow and avoid being seen, he had a level of protection the other two did not.

Their plan almost worked. At the last moment, their escape was discovered, and both were locked up. Etri tried so hard to break them out, but couldn't succeed before Sol and Pierre were dragged out to the surface of the mountain with Etri following close behind in shadow form. With no witnesses around, the three knew the type of punishment the priest/esses had in mind. What was essentially an elemental firefight went down. Etri, doing the best he could with magic that had never been fully trained, blocked the elementals long enough to give Pierre time to summon shadows of his own to use against the light elementals. Sol, absolutely terrified of everything happening, lost control over his magic. He flared hot and bright like a small sun, which took out a portion of the elementals before he fainted. This was a losing battle and the other two knew it. Pierre urged Etri to get away with Sol, then used every ounce of his strength to buy them time. Etri, in turn, threw all he could into wrapping his magic around the other two to try to shadow them to safety, but he wasn't strong enough. He was able to grab his twin-- just barely-- and pull him away before Pierre drained his own magic dry.

The twins got away and made their way south into Galanvoth and eventually into Concordia. It wasn't easy and they struggled at first, both in terms of controlling their magic and with life in general. As Sol grew more confident with his magic, he decided to change his name as a way of claiming his power for himself and also to get rid of the birth name that reminded him too much of his past. He earned what income he could through his skill in fixing and inventing things while Etri stole what else they needed to survive. This, though, is a story for another day. Seven years have passed since they fled Montglace and both have grown up and found happiness. They now have safety, security, and friends in their carnival troupe. When they meet Blythe and later Adair and Dray, they gain a family they never had in anyone but each other. Forever at the back of both of their minds, though, is guilt and regret that they weren't able to save Pierre, too.

(I think most of the images are pretty straightforward, but I'll explain the two important ones that probably aren't. The necklace represents the one Sol made for Pierre; he put some of his magic into it so it served to protect Pierre a little while they were living in the temple. While Pierre was telling Etri to leave, he passed the necklace back because it was the only thing he could give Sol to remember him by. The crescent moon tattoo on Etri’s side represents the branding he was given when his magic manifested; everyone in the Sanctuaries is branded when they develop magic.

This is part of a series of posts about the main characters' backstories. You can find the ones I've shared so far over on the moodboard page.)



  1. I love the concept of two twins who have light and shadow magic. Also it was neat to read a little bit more about the religion in your Fantasy world. :)

    1. Aww thanks! I love the twins-- they have such a great sibling relationship. I'll be sharing more world building moodboards in the nearest future, so I'll talk more about Montglace hopefully soon. :)


to top