Sep. 6th, 2000

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Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is copyright Mahiro Maeda, GONZO / Media Factory, GDH, Geneon, and Funimation. No infringement or disrespect of owners of existing copyrights in Gankutsuou or its derivative works is intended by this non-profit, non-commercial web page.


In a 26 episode anime produced in 2004 (and 3 supplemental volumes of manga) Gankutsuou offers a visually stunning retelling of Dumas' classic novel of a man framed  for a crime by three of his friends, only to return 25 years later to take revenge.

Set in the year 5053, it shifts the focus of the novel to Albert de Morcerf, a naive young man who gets caught up in the Count's terrible plots of revenge.

Why it's good

It retains the "spirit" of the book and most of its cast, while folding in science fiction elements (there's a traditional duel – fought in mecha suits! there are carriages – drawn by robot horses!) and a number of unique twists to the characters and plot (such as Albert's fascination with (i.e., crush on) the Count) so seamlessly that it never felt tacked on. I hadn't read the novel, so I was amazed to talk to Dumas fans (most of which seem to love it) after I saw the series and hear just how many things had been changed while still staying true to so many of the original's themes.

But that's not all! Not only does it have a crackling good plot - it's gorgeous. I admit that many of my fandoms I love for their brains or heart more than their looks, but to me Gankutsuou has it all. Below are four of the caps I made while rewatching it for my fics. (The small, still pictures really don't do it justice – that dress Haydee is wearing in the upper left literally scintillates; in the other scenes colors pulse, candles flicker, and that freaky thing in the background of the upper right picture is an orrey that's in constant motion.)

Four screen captures from the anime series Gankutsuou

Toss in an often stunning soundtrack – the work of two different composers (one French, one Japanese), which complement both the sumptuous style and the futuristic setting, add intense emotion conveyed by wonderful seiyuu, and you have a true feast for the senses.

What people don't like (and why to stick with it)

The visuals – or more precisely, the way clothing (and less noticeably hair) is handled on the main characters drives some people nuts enough in the early episodes that they stop watching. It doesn't show as much in the still shots (and it's a bit hard to describe) but … see that jacket pattern in the lower right picture? Imagine that the fabric's pattern is a "background layer" which does not move when the character moves.

(I agree that it can be distracting, but honestly, you get used to it. Or learn to ignore it. Or accept it as a small flaw in an otherwise amazing work.)

The first few episodes can seem to be a little slow moving – I know my spouse found them so – but if you stick with it (and can get used to the visual style, which some people don't like) you'll find that it's all there for a purpose.


a series of screen captures of the character of the Count from the anime Gankutsuou

The Count, of course, is the center of the story. Mysterious, wealthy, worldly, he captivates Albert and Parisian society – all the while setting in motion the intricate traps that will disgrace and then destroy the three former friends who have since gone on to become prominent in politics, finance, and the law.

(I'm holding off on certain spoilers here, too.)

Appears in Etheloisa, Kyrie, Mainspring, Nurture, Poisons II, and Possibilities.


Albert de Morcerf is the main character. Telling the story from his POV allows the Count's machinations to remain hidden for a longer time. Albert's innocent trust encourages empathy, because for a while we are just as enthralled with the Count as he is. At the beginning of the story Albert is engaged to his childhood friend Eugénie de Danglars.

The dub tones down the exact nature of Albert's feelings for the Count, as the original anime pulls out all the crush tropes. Maeda, the anime's creator, does say in one of the commentaries that he considers Gankutsuou to include "a homosexual love story," though whether that's Count/Albert or Franz/Albert he didn't say. (Considering the promo art,I'd say it was the former.)

Appears in Choices, Etheloisa, Mainspring, and the two Hookah Monologues pieces, Possibilities and Nurture.


Le Baron Franz d'Epinay, Albert's best friend since childhood, is a little more of a cynic than Albert, and suspicious of the Count from the first. It's not clear how much he's motivated by jealousy, but whether it's friendship or unrequited love, he certainly wants to pry Albert away from the Count. He's engaged to Valentine de Villefort, but it was an arranged marriage and he doesn't have romantic feelings for her.

Appears in Choices, Etheloisa, and Hookah Monologues I: Possibilities.


Héloïse de Villefort, the second wife of Gérard de Villefort, Procureur-général, is a woman with no great love for her husband or stepdaugher Valentine. She's bitter because her own son, Edouard, won't inherit much from the Villefort estate. Her hobby is gardening.

Appears in Poisons, I and Poisons, II.

Bertuccio, the Count's major domo and right-hand man. He's in my fics mostly because his seiyuu(Kōji Ishii) has a great voice, and because I'm generally a sucker for sexy bald men. (Also I saw really, really amazing Bertuccio fanart years ago on a Japanese fansite, and it branded my brainmeats.)

Appears in Kyrie.


Marquis Andrea Cavalcanti, an "aristocrat" groomed by the Count as part of the destruction of the Danglars family. He replaces Albert as Eugénie's fiance, but being that he's a complete sociopath, he assaults her the night before their wedding when he catches her trying to run away.

Appears in Inheritance and Honor.



Eugénie de Danglars, Albert's fiancee. Best friends with Albert and Franz since childhood, she's also a gifted pianist and composer. She agrees to marry Andrea in obedience to her father.

Appears in Honor.

Other Characters


Where to get it

The anime, originally released by Funimation in a gorgeous boxset, was out of print for a while, but has been picked up and reissued as a thinpak). Crunchyroll has subs (it's a pretty good dub, too as dubs go, but personally I prefer the the original.)

Additional links

Gankutsuou Wikipedia entry

Back to main Fandom page

written [] edited 6 September 2014

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Saint Seiyais copyright Kurumada Masami and Toei.. No infringement or disrespect of the intellectual property rights held by the owners of existing copyrights in Saint Seiya or its derivative works is intended by this non-profit, non-commercial web page.


First of all: I'm acknowledging up front that I won't be able to do this justice.

Second: If you happened to have watched any of a series shown in the US as Knights of the Zodiac – well, just forget what you saw. In so many ways, in all the ways that count, that wasn't Saint Seiya.

The premise, in a very tiny over-generalized nutshell: Every 250 years or so, the god Hades (yes that Hades, from Greek mythology) and the goddess Athena are reincarnated as humans. Once they reach maturity they raise up their respective armies (bad guys called Spectres, good guys called Saints) and wage a Holy War for the fate of the earth and all the human beings upon it.

Like angels, Athena's Saints are ranked at several levels of power – at the bottom are the 72 Bronze Saints (the "Seiya" of the title is a Bronze), then 24 Silver Saints, and twelve Gold Saints. Each Saint is associated with a constellation; for example, Seiya with Pegasus, and other comrades for Draco and Cygus. The Gold Saints are associated with the twelve Hellenistic zodiac sun signs (Aries, Taurus, Cancer, Libra, etc.) .

The Gold Saints and Athena live in temples in a hidden area (called "Sanctuary") near the Acropolis. For day-to-day organization Saints are organized under the "Kyoko" (usually translated as Pope; I personally use the term Pontifex or Holy Father).

The particular armor that each Saint (and the gods and goddesses as well) wear is called a "Cloth". The Saints use the power of the universe ("cosmo") and their own spiritual focus to transcend the weakness of their human bodies and do truly superhuman things.

And if I don't stop there, you've going to get entirely buried in minutiae: this is a very well thought out universe. So let's go to ...

Why I love it

I'll say it up front: Saint Seiya is cheesy, melodramatic, at times badly drawn – and yet for 25 years has managed to remain one of the most popular anime ever made. (I've been told that it has been shown in syndication in parts of Latin and South America continuously since it was dubbed.) It's a wonderful example of the shonen genre, where the scrappy underdogs have so much spirit and heart and determination that not even 100 broken bones, losing 2/3 of the blood in their body, or being punched at the speed of light can stop them. It was the direct inspiration for Sailor Moon, and was one of the series that provided raw material for the earliest waves of doujinshika. If you love BL and shonen ai, Saint Seiya is one of the series you can thank for it.

Because what else are you going to get from a series where the female characters are so overwhelmingly outnumbered? Saint Seiya was unabashedly "bromantic" decades before that term was heard, chock-full of beautiful bishonen and biseinen wearing colorful latex, tossing waist-length hair of every color imaginable, and shedding manly man-tears over the heroic sacrifices of their fallen comrades.

The first few episodes are not that great; one might even say they're bad. But once you get to the fight between Seiya and Shiryu… well, you might find yourself falling under the spell, like I did back in 2003. (By episode 10, I was so hooked that I marathoned the remaining 104 episodes plus the newly-released first third of the Hades arc. All that solidified my love for the characters, and inspired what I still think are two of my best fanfictions, Intermezzo and Legacy.)

I'd like to note that the Saint Seiya material I used as canon back then was primarily the original manga, the fansubs of the first 73 episodes (Sanctuary arc) of the original series, plus the first 13 episodes of the Hades arc of 2002-2003. The universe has continued to expand since then: Lost Canvas manga and anime, the Soul of Gold OVA, the Legend of Sanctaury live action film, and yet more manga -- Episode G, Next Dimension. (Lost Canvas especially threw canon wenches into my previously canon-faithful fics, but I haven't gone back and tidied yet. :p)

What some people don't like about it (and my response)

"The original series looks dated."

Well, yes. it's old enough to be oldschool.

"The storylines are just .. ridiculous. and no one could survive the kinds of injuries they incur. And ..."

Pffffbt. If you can't get in the spirit of the series, watch something else.

Characters I write

Though there are literally dozens to choose from, there are 4 characters that have received most of my fanfic love.


Dragon Shiryu, one of the Bronze Saints that, along with Seiya, are considered the "main characters" of the original anime series. Shiryu is calm, respectful, physically powerful, and like all Athena's Saints entirely dedicated to his mission (almost to the point of masochism.) He has a dragon tattoo on his back that fades when his life force is low. He is the only Bronze Saint I write extensively, mostly because, in my universe, he is the recipient of an unrequited and mostly Platonic love from ...


…  Gold Saint Aries Mu. I admit that I was predisposed to like Mu, as his seiyuu in the original series was Kaneto Shiozawa. I adore Shiozawa's voice so much that watching whatever I could find that he had voiced guided most of my anime viewing for the first few years. (Iason Mink in Ai no Kusabi, Narsus in Arislan, Ageha in Basara, Shin Kazuma in Area 88, Shadi in series 1 YGO, D in the original Vampire Hunter D … I still continue to track down his more obscure performances.)

But even without that, Mu would have become a favorite. He gets one of the more interesting introductions and backstory – we find out that he had fled Sanctuary at the age of 7 when his Master, Aries Shion, was killed. (Shion had also been the Pontifex of Sanctuary; his killer impersonated him for many years until he was finally defeated by .. oops, shouldn't tell ya :p) Mu seems to have lived on his own in Tibet, perfecting the "Cloth Repair" skills that Shion had taught him, fending off assassins from the "false pope", and training his own apprentice, the rascally Kiki.

My only quibble (if you can call it that) with Mu is that he doesn't seem like a "traditional" fiery Aries.


We don't learn much about Gold Saint Aries Shion until the beginning of the Hades arc – and even then, for a long time the only things known about him were: a) he's like Kiki and Mu in appearance (a "dothead" – I'm not sure if it's fanon or canon that they're from Atlantis or Lemuria); b) he was one of the only two Saints to survive the Holy War of 1743 (the other was Libra Dohko); c) he was Mu's master, and d) the Kyoko of Sanctuary until he was killed.

Shion seems a bit more like a typical Aries in the Hades arc – his temper and emotions are more on display (although it's difficult to know how much of what he does in the Hades arc is an act.) He seems to have a dry, wry, almost sardonic wit (though this may be colored by his seiyuu, who is the same actor who voiced Akabane "Dr Jackal" Kurodo in GetBackers.)

Shion's goodbye scene with Dohko in the Hades arc – brief as it is – sealed Shion/Dohko as my Saint Seiya OTP. (Well, that and some gorgeous doujinshi :p)

As I have decided that the dotheads are a different race than humans, I've given them a physiology that essentially replaces pubic hair with a tough membrane covering the genitals (this membrane, the tegimen, thins sufficiently in the presence of the appropriate pheromone that the cuspis breaks through it) and an external nerve cluster meant for pleasurable sensations (the occasus).


Gold Saint Libra Dohko is known for most of the Saint Seiya series as a Roshi, a purple Yoda who trained Shiryu and who spends most of this time watching a waterfall in Rozan, China. ~ We find out a number of things about Dohko in the Hades arc: a) he's spent the time since the last Holy War guarding the prison of the 108 Specters of Hades army b) he's got a tiger tattoo on his back and c) he's not nearly as old as he looks.


Go ahead, fire that canon at me:

So … back in 2004 when I was inspired to write Shion and Dohko and Mu develop a backstory for them, I teased out the few details in canon and studied their few appearances, and based on their voices and what I saw (Shion and Dohko were essentially personality opposites) I made Shion the fiery, impatient one and Dohko the calm, steady one. With the help of friends (and inspired by a fabulous French fanart) I invented names and nationalities for the rest of the gold Saints from 1743. ~ I took a lovely color panel of the two limping off after the end of the war and used that as the opening for both Intermezzo and Legacy.

And then, as I mentioned above, new works came out that shot that all to hell. Turns out that Kurumada meant Shion to be the quiet steady one, and Dohko to be the firebrand. (Well, that explains all the girly Shion uke fanart I've seen for so long :p) ~ I do still think my characterizations & stories stand on their own for the most part, as the stories are about the relationship more than big plotty tie-ins to canon.

Reading Seed

If you want to tackle Seed, my strange "erotic gothic yaoi drama with demons, Spectres, Silvers, Bronzes, love, angst, twincest, kink, violence, yuri, and WAFF" or one of the other Saint Seiya fics I haven't mentioned yet, then here are quick summaries of my takes on the other Gold Saints.


Taurus Aldebaran, Mu's genial Brazilian neighbor. In my fics he's had a low-key crush on his best friend Mu since they were kids. Physically, he's a gentle giant – 6' 9".


Gemini Saga – one of the bad boys. He was a candidate to succeed Shion until he lost patience and killed him instead: canon was sort of undecided whether it was his "evil side" or a possession by the god Ares (and to top that off, he later was revealed to have a "black sheep" evil twin named Kanon. I sort of rolled all that together in Chiaroscuro.) ~ Anime gave him cobalt blue long hair.


Cancer Deathmask – in the original anime he comes across like a complete sadist – he throws women and old men down cliffs and has no problem attacking a blinded, cloth-less Shiryu until Mu intervenes. He decorates his temple with death masks of those he's killed (hence the name). I enjoy making him a swaggering, foul-mouthed prick.

Leo Aiolia – younger brother of the defamed Sagittarius Saint, Aiolia seems to be one of the noblest and purest Saints – to me he has a definite Galahad vibe. Short brown hair.

Virgo Shakais said to be the reincarnation of the Buddha. Often referred to as "The Man Closest to God," to me he's very difficult to write IC in a serious piece (his chapter in Seedtook me four months of revision.) He generally keeps his eyes closed unless he's getting ready to blast someone. In a comic piece, however, he's "golden," because he can be whatever you want. I like him prissy and sort of repressed (The Gold Hussy). Long long blond hair.

Scorpio Milo… ah, Milo. Fanon wise, he's the resident priapic sex god. Canon, he's a merciless, vindictive assassin if he feels he has right on his side. Pairing him with Camus has been done so often, for so long, that most people are sick of it, but it still works. (This is one of those cases where a small detail in the anime became the foundation for acres of slash.) Longish blue-violet hair, the index finger of his right hand acquires a long red fingernail/stinger when he's getting ready to use his "Scarlet Needle" attack.


Sagittarius Aiolos – deceased. He was the older brother of Aiolia, the Leo saint. When Aiolos caught Saga trying to kill baby Athena, he saved the baby but was framed by Saga instead. He died getting the baby (who was raised as Saori Kiddo) to safety.


Capricorn Shura gets kinda short shrift in my fics. I'm sorry, but there are just too many pretty boys, and too little time!

Aquarius Camus, my personal favorite for the sexiest Gold Saint, is a French Saint who trained in Siberia (and was the Master of Bronze Saint Cygnus Hyouga) has all ice-based attacks and a very cool, aloof manner. (His seiyuuis also in the goo-inducing range for me, so …) Plus, woo, Long Blue Hair!!


Pisces Aphrodite – one of the Saints who is often mistaken as a woman. Fights with roses, beauty marks, and aqua hair. As in many doujinshi, I make him buddies with Deathmask just because … it's kinda cracky.


Ophiuchus Shaina – a powerful Silver Saint, she (like all female Saints) wears a mask. To conceal her gender. (Because that's the only thing that would give it away, right? :p)


Aquila Marin – another Silver Saint, she trained Seiya.


Where to get it: anime

(Apologies for covering just Region 1 here) There were two previous Region 1 releases. DiC (now Cookie Jar) released the 32 heavily edited episodes that had been shown on Cartoon network as Knights of the Zodiac. ADV released the first 2 seasons ( 60 episodes) uncut/unedited with dual audio.

According to wikipedia, "A DVD set entitled "Saint Seiya: Sanctuary Classic Complete Collection" will be released to DVD in the US on November 5, 2013 from New Video, containing 12 discs, and the English dub of the first 73 episodes (marking episodes 61-73's debut in English). However, it contains no Japanese audio."

Saint Seiya: Lost Canvas has been available to stream on Crunchyroll.  It covers the eighteenth-century war, and includes Shion and Dohko as major characters.

Additional links


Wikipedia entry


One of the Saint Seiya wiki:

Back to main Fandom page

Written May 2009; edited 24 Dec 2015

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Disclaimer: Warcraft and World of Warcraft are the intellectual property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. No infringement or disrespect of the intellectual property rights held by the owners of existing copyrights in Warcraft, World of Warcraft or their derivative works is intended by this non-profit, non-commercial web page.

Parodied on South Park, mentioned by name on How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory, thinly disguised on The Guild, played by over twelve million subscribers, the franchise started in 1994 as a single player strategy game about a war between orcs and humans leveraged a combination of a well-developed fantasy world, a design approach of taking good ideas and tweaking them, and fortuitous timing into the most successful on-line game ever made. It wasn't the first game of its kind (it's not even considered the best), but it appeals to a wide audience.


(I have to interject here that's been much more difficult to write this page: not only does WoW have a truckload of lore – not easy to boil down to the bare essentials – but online roleplaying games have layers of sociological and meta aspects that other media just don't have. ~ Also note that in order to generalize and summarize so that the character and story sections are comprehensible to anyone reading this page who isn't familiar with WoW, I'll probably introduce some of my own subjective shading and glossing over no matter how hard I try not to.)

The world is Azeroth, created millennia ago by the Titans, who also set up five Dragonflights to act as protectors/patron saints of various aspects of the world. In the "current" world two long-warring factions – the Horde and the Alliance – also fight two invading evils: the demons of the Burning Legion, and the undead of the Scourge (mindless zombies as well as not-so mindless.). As if this isn't sufficiently complex, a number of Lovecraftian Old Gods subtly seed chaos and madness here and there.

The Alliance is informally "led" by the King of Stormwind, who represents the humans. Other alliance races are the dwarves, the gnomes, the "night elves," the draenei (essentially an alien race: see Jadaar below), and the worgen (lycanthropes).

The Horde is a looser confederation of races – nominally led by the orc Warchief – which includes the Darkspear trolls, the bovinoid Tauren, "blood" elves (former high elves of the Alliance who suffered a racial addiction/withdrawal when the source of their magic was polluted), goblins, and the Forsaken, a faction of independent undead who broke free of the Scourge.

The Burning Legion, in simplest terms, is primarily a vast army of demons (currently led by the demon lord Kil'jaeden at the behest of a corrupted Titan) who swarm between dimensions looking for worlds to overrun and destroy. The Legion has had a number of complex interactions with Draenor, the orc homeworld, as well as with Azeroth.

The Scourge was initially created by the Legion during their invasion of Azeroth; this "disposable" self-replenishing undead army – led by the incorporeal Lich King Ner'zhul, who from the Frozen Throne (a magical prison in the far north continent of Northrend) commanded elite "death knights" and zombie-like rank and file minions – was meant to take out the majority of the forces resisting the Legion invasion. As it turned out, while the Legion was distracted by fighting Alliance and Horde forces on multiple fronts Ner'zhul began to subtly slip the Legion's leash, mostly by manipulating Arthas Menethil, the Prince of Lordaeron – who had an obsession with defeating the Scourge – into taking up a cursed runesword. After a long series of events Arthas lost his soul and became one of Ner'zhul's death knights. He led Scourge forces in the destruction of Silvermoon City, the high elf capital – and even worse, corrupted the Sunwell, the holy source of the high elves' magical energy. Most of the survivors became "blood elves" because of this, and either suffered horribly from magical withdrawal or were driven to "corrupt" forms of magical energy.

Why WoW is fun to play—and difficult to write for

World of Warcraft is the first MMORPG I ever played, and I have to admit that the game play – making a character that interacts with others and learns about "the world" primarily through interaction with that world, its static characters (usually referred to as NPCs, non-player characters), and other people's avatars – is satisfying on several levels. Not the least of which, for me, is the ability to actually fight evil and see tangible progress – neither of which one gets to do very much in the real world … but that's a meta-discussion again. (See, I told you I'd veer!)

Writing for a game can be an interesting challenge. First there's the task of tackling the content – a massive amount of sometimes contradictory or retconned lore contained not only in the games but also in novels and manga – and sifting out what bits to use. Then there's the decision on whether or not to reference "game mechanics" – the actual spells and attacks of the various classes. On one hand, both of these rest on the assumption that floats much of fanfiction, that you can save yourself big chunks of exposition if you know your readers are familiar with the world you're woven your story in, with how canon characters look or how major canon events went down ... but the disadvantage of using these shorthand / shortcuts is that not all readers (not even all of those who play WoW) might understand offhand references.

So, the challenge is to see if you can craft an entertaining story in between the extremes. Too little explanation and you'll lose some readers to confusion; too much and you'll lose others to impatience and boredom.

Characters I write for

Although I've written a bit of femslash and het based on prompts, most of my works are about non-canon male couples – character pairs whose relationship is open to interpretation. I find them intriguing, but none are really what I'd call an OTP.

A bit of extra backstory (continued from above): The Lich King Ner'zhul and Death Knight Arthas – still nominally serving the Legion by commanding the Scourge - had problems. The Legion, who no longer trusted Ner'zhul, sent forces to Northrend to dispose of him, while Arthas came under attack by Sylvanas Windrunner (an elf who Arthas had tortured, killed, and then raised into undeath). Arthas rushed to Northrend to protect Ner'zhul, but during the battle Sylvanas and many undead in Lordaeron broke free of the Lich King's control and became the Forsaken.

Arthas ultimately defeated the forces in Northrend, destroyed the Frozen Throne, and fused with Ner'zhul to become the new Lich King. As leader of a Scourge that now considered the Legion his enemy, Arthas was immensely powerful, but he lost control over all most of the death knights he had created when he sent them to Light's Hope Chapel as bait for Tirion Foldring, a supreme champion of the Light. Tirion and other holy paladins drove Arthas back, in the process freeing most of Arthas' death knights from his control.

These freed death knights formed a new order – the Knights of the Ebon Blade – dedicated to Lich King Arthas' downfall. They also pledged themselves to whatever faction (Horde or Alliance) they had been in life, and this is where one WoW's most tragic and subtexty bromances comes in.

The story of Koltira Deathweaver and Thassarian is a bleak one. Thassarian (on the left in the picture above) is a human death knight who, while still under Arthas' control, had killed and raised into undeath a high elf named Koltira. ~ Thassarian was the first Death Knight to pledge allegiance to the Alliance, while Koltira drifted to the Horde. (Go read the Death Knight graphic novel! Lots of backstory :p). In short: they were enemies in life who became brothers in death and forged a strong friendship, despite how events keep conspiring to break their bond and force them to opposite sides.


I can put the blame for my interest in these two firmly at the feet of fandom. I'd noticed them as I was questing with my various characters, but hadn't seen all of their interactions (or seen the death knight graphic novel, which imo is the best of the written canon) … and then somehow as I edged into the fandom I was caught up in their story – especially when Jack of None quoted a Blizzard Q&A mentioning that death knights might be "addicted" to causing pain in the same way that blood elves were to magic, suffering escalating pangs in its absence.

I see Thassarian as a decent guy who somehow struggled to remain a decent person even while under the Lich King's control. Although forced by Arthas to kill his own mother, Thassarian is later reminded of the event, so much so that his guilt prevents him from killing Koltira's brother Faltora. ~ It is this perception of Thassarian's hesitation that causes Koltira to believe that there is more to Thassarian than just an evil, mindless undead, and which seems to be the source of the bond from Koltira's side. ~ Although Thassarian ultimately does kill Koltira, raise him into undeath, and train him as a death knight, I see continuing guilt over this as part of what drives Thassarian. ~ In key quests given to Alliance players, Thassarian either sends you to rescue Koltira, or asks you to keep secret that he and Koltira have decided to call a truce after working together to fight a common enemy.

Koltira Deathweaver's personality is quite distinct from Thassarian's. He's sardonic, almost dour, and tells you that Thassarian is an idiot for having him rescued. He's also apparently haunted relentlessly by shadows (although it doesn't seem he's the only one so affected.) ~ He wields a huge, "vampiric" runeblade called Byfrost. After the "truce" that I referred to above he's dragged off by Sylvanas, who vows that she'll break him of his compassion for Thassarian.

Thassarian and Koltira appear in A Cascade of Garnet, Comfort, Distress, Talent Mastery, and the first tale of YMMV and Other Tales. Koltira also appears in Bond, which is set before his death.



Compared to the drama and angst of Koltira and Thassarian, Asric and Jadaar are light situation comedy. Although they're Thassarian and Koltira's opposites in many ways, they do have one thing in common with the star-crossed death knights: Asric and Jadaar are also on opposite sides of the faction divide.

Asric and Jadaar were first introduced in 2007 when they were competing to get the goods on Griftah, a shady huckster selling everything but snake oil. When the investigation fell apart, they were both fired, and have spent their time since hanging out together, at first tossing blame and insults but slowly becoming less vituperative. Asric, a blood elf who seems not to mind bending the rules in service of flexible morality, calls Jadaar a pompous windbag. Jadaar, a one-eyed draenei whose people have been fleeing Kil'jaeden and the Legion for millennia, is an ex-Peacekeeper who calls Asric a brat and a dandy. (This is one of those places where I'm tempted to do a huge lore dump, but honestly, to enjoy these two knowing mostly that they bicker like an an old married "odd couple" is sufficient.)

Asric and Jadaar appear in four stories: Not Half Bad,, the followup tale The Other Half's Not Half Bad Either, One Week a Month, or Asric and Jadaar Go to the Darkmoon Faire, and Purge.


The NPCs Sky Commander Adaris and Medic Severin


Even many long-time WoW players may go "Who?" if you mention Severin or Sky Commander Adaris. ~ In an out-of-the way corner of Outland, the members of the Shattari Skyguard – a cross faction group based in a small outpost high in the mountains above a forest – keeps watch on the nearby city of Skettis, where the arakkoa (a race of sentient avians) appear to be working to summon a dark bird-god.

Severin is the Skyguard medic. His primary actions in the game relate to be watching over/humoring the Skyguard's leader, Sky Commander Adaris, who was wounded in a clash with the arakkoa. Severin thinks that Adaris' comments about a shadow world of arakkoa are fevered delusions, but near the end of the questline Adaris is vindicated.

Severin and Adaris appear in Above the Clouds.


Kael'thas Sunstrider was the first WoW lore character I became interested in, but also the reason I put off writing WoW fanfiction for so long. A major figure in the game (and as of Cataclysm the only one you kill twice) he's an entire freight train's-worth of lore just on his own. First introduced in the RTS pre-WoW Warcraft games, he's one of the game's most maddening examples of Face Heel Turn (and therefore has many interpretations, all passionately defended.…

[The son of the high elf  king Anasterian, Kael'thas (Kael for short) did not share his father's isolationism. At an early age he went to the human city of Dalaran and joined the Kirin Tor, the association of Alliance mages that had been trained by high elves hundreds of years before. While in Dalaran, Kael fell in love with Jaina Proudmoore, a human sorceress of great power, but his feelings were not reciprocated. Kael participated actively in the defense of Dalaran when it came under attack by the orcs during the Second War, and became a member of the Six, the ruling council of Dalaran. During the Third War, Kael's homeland was destroyed and his people nearly wiped out by the death knight Arthas Menethil, who also defiled the Sunwell, The source of the high elves' magic. Kael struggled to hold his people together in the aftermath of this disaster, taking more and more drastic steps to find them a new source of magical power after the Sunwell's destruction, and ultimately to a secret alliance with the Legion itself.

Kael'thas is the main character and narrator of Deceiver, and also appeared more comically in Edification, the second of the YMMV tales.

Kil'jaeden … well, where do I start? Possibly my favorite WoW character, this BAMF was the mover and shaker behind a good chunk of lore. ~ 25,000 years ago, Kil'jaeden, Archimonde, and Velen were best friends and leaders of the planet Argus, a civilization of magic users. They were approached by the Titan Sargeras, who offered them the power to unite the cosmos and spread the power of the Light. Kil'jaeden and Archimonde agreed, but Velen – who was given a vision by the naaru (beings of pure Light) of Sargeras' true aim – to corrupt the eredar and use them as his legions to destroy life everywhere. Velen made clandestine arrangements to flee Argus with those eredar; an enraged Kil'jaeden (who commands the Burning Legion at Sargeras's behest) has pursued Velen and the uncorrupted eredar – who renamed themselves draenei, meaning exiled ones – ever since.

Kil'jaeden followed Velen to the planet of Draenor. Kil'jaeden slowly corrupted the planet's native orc inhabitants into a warlike, bloodthirsty warrior race, initially by deceiving and manipulating the orc shaman Ner'zhul into inciting the orcs to attack the draenei and then – after Ner'zhul had a spasm of conscience and was sent to a torture dimension – brought to completion by Ner'zhul's amoral and ambitious apprentice Gul'dan. ~

Kil'jaeden released what was left of Ner'zhul, transformed him into the Lich King, imprisoned him in the Frozen throne in Northrend, and thus created the Scourge as the advance troops for the invasion of Azeroth by the Legion, but when Ner'zhul slipped the leash Kil'jaeden tasked Illidan Stormrage as his lieutenant to destroy Lich King Ner'zhul. When Illidan fails at this task twice, Kil'jaeden acquires the loyalty of Kael'thas, both to keep an eye on Illidan as well as to make the magical preparation necessary for using the corrupted Sunwell as a portal for bringing Kil'jaeden into Azeroth.

As you might have guess, Kil'jaeden is a key player in Deceiver.



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Written September 2010; edited 13 October 2017

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