Unexpected Inspiration Character Backstory: Blythe's Past

It was pretty, really, the way the molten glass exploded across the room. In places it dripped, in places it pinged. A droplet hit Blythe's hand and she brushed it off before it could harden, then brushed a few more off her shirt as it was smoldering. The glassmaker gasped and snatched her hands away before she could clear off the rest. She turned Blythe's hands over to look at the palms. Okay, so they were slightly red. A few welts were already fading. Nothing big. Blythe rolled her eyes as she pulled her arms back. She'd always healed quickly and a brief touch of hot glass barely registered as pain. The real problem was that this was another mistake in a series of mistakes. If it turned out she didn't have magic and couldn't do anything with art besides make a scribble, a din, a tangle, or an explosion, she was going to have to live with her aunt. A week in her company was long enough to know that was the last thing she wanted.

-Excerpt from an early draft of Colorweaver (book 1)

Blythe had a fairly normal Concordian childhood, but in a different way than Adair. While he grew up in a small town, she grew up in the capital city. He comes from a family of Artisans, the artists and craftspeople who have magic, while Blythe's parents and the community she grew up in were Protectorates, the elite group trained to guard art and protect artists. He had a huge, sprawling family. Blythe only ever had her father.

Blythe's father became a single parent after her mother passed away shortly after her birth. As a Protectorate who guarded trade shipments, Blythe's mother should never have been traveling so far from healers so late in her pregnancy. But, like her daughter, stubbornness was her defining trait. Truth be told, her father also possessed it in abundance and he was the biggest influence in Blythe's life. Blythe looked up to him: he was strong, brave, kind, and driven to succeed in whatever he did. With his blessing, she began training and studying to be a Protectorate from a young age, until his stubbornness got the better of him, too. As a single parent, his assignment should never have been dangerous. Blythe never learned the details, no matter how much she looked into this later as an adult, and at the age of thirteen was orphaned. She had hoped to be adopted by her father's closest friends until an aunt showed up to claim her. Blythe had no choice but to go with her after she failed every test to see if she had artist magic. Had Blythe shown signs of this, she could have stayed in Concordia. She didn't particularly want artist magic, but would have preferred this to having to leave the country with a family member she had never met, who she disliked immediately.

Her uncle had been the Concordian diplomat to the neighboring country of Galanvoth for several years, long enough that Blythe had barely any memory of him. Blythe didn't mind his company and would not have minded Galanvoth so much had he not been gravely ill. He had been sick for a long time, according to her aunt, and after he passed in the same year as his brother, Blythe's aunt became her lone remaining family member. Blythe was miserable. She wanted nothing more than to return to Concordia and her training as a Protectorate. Her aunt, meanwhile, was determined to turn Blythe into a perfect Named Galanvoy citizen, the perfect house-spouse to one day marry off for political advantage. Something about her aunt rubbed Blythe the wrong way and it always seemed strange to her that no one else saw her aunt the way she did.

This misery lasted only for a few weeks, weeks which were filled with arguments and teenage rebellion, before Blythe snuck out into parts of the city her aunt would never visit. There she saw medics clandestinely helping sick and injured No-Names, people without the protection of a recognized family lineage. This was a thing Blythe could do that would both spite her aunt and give her a purpose until she came of age and could leave! The busy medics brushed the teenager off at first, until her stubbornness got them to see how hard she was willing to work. She got little sleep in those few years, being dragged around to social events and "taught" by her aunt by day, working with the medics and reading their medical tomes by night and whenever she could sneak away from her aunt. Medicine became her focus the way guard training had when she was younger and within a few years she had the culture's equivalent of a medical degree. Before too long the medics realized that she likely possessed magical healing, something not native to Galanvoth. They urged her to find a way back to Concordia for training, a difficult trick with the border closed and Blythe still underage.

Blythe's escape eventually came in the form of a traveling carnival troupe, one of the few Concordian groups allowed to cross the border. It wasn't quite what her Protectorate training had prepared her for, but her experience with blades made her a passable performer. It was there she met Dray who, after a short conflict where they both thought they were competing for the same act as blade-dancers, became her performance partner and sibling-by-choice. Shortly after joining the carnival, she apprenticed to the troupe's healer, who became her friend and mentor and taught her the basics of magical healing.

After acquiring this particular medical license fairly quickly since she was already a trained medic and only needed to learn the magic side, she decided on a focus to study. She picked trans health because the two most important people in her life - - Dray and her mentor Wysta-- were transgender. She took a hiatus from the troupe in order to study, and returned to the capital city where she had grown up. Blythe, being Blythe, decided that while she was there, she may as well do the equivalent of a double major and pick up where she had left off with Protectorate training. By the time she got her second medical degree, she had passed the tests for the Protectorate rank. With these skills acquired and needing a break from academia for a while, she went back to her carnival troupe. There she became the assistant healer to her mentor while she tried to decide what she wanted to do with her career.

What she no longer had, however, was a sibling. Dray had left the troupe to become a solo performer, which Blythe didn't discover until she returned and found other people living in Dray's room. Dray hadn't bothered to tell her they were leaving and later she heard nothing from them except a few stilted letters that sounded nothing like the verbose and argumentative sibling she had left behind. There was never an address to send anything back to, not with Dray on the road. She tried to keep herself busy by helping the troupe and almost managed to convince herself that she wasn't hurt by Dray's actions. She knew as much about Dray's past as they were willing to tell anyone and had picked up pieces of memories while healing them, so she suspected why Dray had left and understood the reason. This didn't make her happy, though. When the troupe had sent out word asking for a fire performer to replace Dray, Sol and Etri took the position and Dray's vacant room. Blythe found the twins impossible to dislike even considering the circumstances and she became close friends with Etri and quickly fell into an older sister role to Sol, acting as his personal healer as she patched him up after every failed invention and bad idea. Before too long the twins became as close to her as she had been with Dray, and when Adair wandered into the carnival and needed help getting back his stolen art, she and the twins readily agreed to help. Blythe was less than happy when the search led the four to cross paths with Dray almost immediately. Communication had never been her or Dray's strong suit and it took a while before they were able to get back to where they had left off.

Her found family gave Blythe some much-needed direction. It might just be possible to be a healer, a performer, and a Protectorate. As Adair’s sentinel, the significant other to an artist with magic, she can use her guard training as the highest ranking level of Protectorate. Adair is free to travel with a carnival troupe, unlike most Artisans who choose to live in the capital city, because he's a cartographer. This would be the perfect solution if fate didn't have other things in mind than letting the five stay carnies.

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



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