A few weeks ago I introduced you to the world of Summersalt, my new story idea which you shape with your votes on the poll you can see at the end of this article and on left sidebar on The Mental Attic. Each vote limits what I can create, and tells me what you don’t want to see in Summersalt, the general fantasy races, tropes and styles you feel should just go.
As part of creating this world, I’ve also started writing some of the characters that inhabit it. Currently I’m focused on the protagonists, and today I’ll introduce you to one of them, the leader of a small unit of Salt Regulation Agents aka Summer Knights.
I hope you like Keegan Leona Mercer as much as I do. This is her profile. But it’s only a story, and a few bits of her personality. If you want to truly get to know her, who she is as a person, you’ll have to wait until I write the novel.
Keegan aka ‘Fuse’ was born 777 years ago in a small village on the outskirts of what is now Summersalt, then known as Dragonpearl. The youngest daughter to a pearl farmer, her prospects in life were to be married to a local farmboy, have children and die of old age. But when pearls became scarce, her parents had no choice but to send her to the city to her Uncle Gavin. In truth, they had sold her to a slave trader, who took a fancy to the girl and kept her for his own personal amusement.
A decade later, Gavin grew bored of his ‘ward’ preferring them younger and fresher, so he brought in another farm girl. Horrified that someone else might go through her hell, Keegan—now 17 years old—killed Gavin the next day while they were out to the market, publicly eviscerating him. Before his men could do anything to her, the local authorities intervened and took her away. While most didn’t believe her testimony, Gavin having a charitable reputation, the Exalted Artificer believed her and used his considerable influence to launch a complete investigation into Gavin’s life and interests, uncovering all his atrocities.
But Keegan had committed murder and under Dragonpearl Law, the punishment was death. But because of her circumstances, the authorities gave her two choices: death or conscription into the military. The Artificer objected to the decision, wishing to place the child under someone else’s care, away from more violence, but the army’s officials saw the potential of a killer child, how they could mould her into the perfect weapon.
Despite the brutality of the training, Keegan persevered—as hoped and expected—and rose through ranks, becoming one of the army’s fiercest warriors. During that time, the Artificer took an active interest in her education and it was one of her tutors, the Artificer’s assistant Marcus, she would eventually marry, despite a rocky relationship because of her abusive past. But with time, effort and care, he helped put some of her demons down, or at least send them to hiding.
When the Blood Wars erupted a decade later, Keegan led her unit through many skirmishes with the Ravager armies, more than once coming close to death. The Army then decided to implement the Fuse Knight project when the Artificer couldn’t come up with a permanent solution to the threat. They chose some of their best to become living weapons, and Keegan was among their top picks. But because of his fondness to Marcus and the girl, The Artificer gave her a chance to back out.
She didn’t take it. The new mother of two, wished to do what she could to save their city. The transformation had a few side effects, sterility among them, though she kept her memories and personality. The rest of the Knights were effectively blank slates, retaining only their martial skill and the single purpose of destroying Ravagers.
When the war ended, with the Artificer dropping the Sunstone, however, the Fuse Knights were to be decommissioned. Once again the Artificer came to Keegan’s aid, one of his last acts before he disappeared. Keegan became the only Fuse Knight to have ever survived the reversal procedure. With other Knights dying during the process and with the Artificer nowhere to be found, the government had no choice but to send the remaining Knights away in pursuit of the remnants of the Revenant army or to hunt some made-up creature, hoping to get rid of them.
Over the past centuries, Keegan, preferring to go by her middle name, Leona, has watched entire generations of her family grow and die, while she remains. One of the last side effects of the Fuse Knight transformation, her body will never age and a promise to Marcus keeps her from ending it herself.
Leona has been in the city through most of its name changes, seen it grow, fall and rise once more. She’s had lovers and loved ones, but the inevitability of their death hardened her. She’s seen and done too much and it’s not guilt that haunts her but memories. And even if she wished to start another family, the transformation took from her the ability to bear children, not that she wants to see her children grow old and die again, while she remains unchanging.
Some Summer Knights think her nickname—they all have one—comes from being the last of the Fuse Knights, but they call her Fuse because she has a very short one. At 777 years of age, one of the many things she’s lost is her patience. She doesn’t tolerate disrespect, rudeness and abuse, in any of its forms. It’s because of this last one she often gets in trouble, by taking on cases that fall outside her jurisdiction, because she can’t abide by certain things. She doesn’t have the patience to go through the proper channels to get things done, she’ll just do it herself, often dragging her team along for the ride.
Physically, she’s not what most would call beautiful. As Tracer—one of her subordinates—would often say: “She’s a bit too much: too tall, too strong, too hard, just too much man!” Though not many agree with him and it’s not uncommon for both men and women to approach her, her gray-blue eyes contrasting her bright red hair, always kept at shoulder length if not completely shaven off, depending on her mood.
Much like the rest of the Summersalt world, Leona is a work in progress and her backstory could change by the time I’m done writing the story, but this is who and what she is at the moment.