Last time I looked at the characters who are Fiarra’s friends at the start of the story. Today I’m looking at her enemies.
Known as the Governor (and not to be confused with the pre-plague official governor, who I refer to with a lower case g), the antagonist’s real (but rarely used) name is Entis. She was sent to the island innocent of the crimes she was accused of, following a grossly unfair trial even by her society’s standards. She therefore has a major grudge against the established government. Her goal is to set up an independent nation on the island, which will require the ability to repel the official governor and his soldiers when (or indeed if) they return. After failing to persuade the rest of the island to help with this goal, she decided to use force to achieve it.
The Governor has grand plans for the island – since it’s rich is resources, they’ve got plenty to sell (potentially to enemies of their home nation). If nobody ever returns – the plague did originate there, after all – then there’s still plenty that can be done with what they have.
She’s ruthless but charismatic, a conceptual leader rather than a practical one – she sees the big picture and works out the big ideas, but relies on others to put these into practice. When faced with drawbacks, though, she becomes increasingly paranoid and controlling.
Laik is the Governor’s second in command for civil matters – logistics, food supply, maintenance of the settlement’s buildings and so on. She came to the island as a lady’s maid to the Governor’s adult daughter, but when she fell ill from the plague she was left behind. She’s organised and efficient, and not afraid of hard work – hence her position in Governor Entis’s new government. She joints the Governor’s cause because she believes in the Governor’s vision to build a better society without the corrupting influences of the old one – which she was certainly able to recognise in her former position – and dreams of the good that can be done with an ordered society.
Laik’s storyline, though, diverges from Entis’s. She becomes increasingly uncomfortable at the Governor’s methods, which include forced labour and threats. She initially believes that the ends justify the means, but hastened by debates with Fiarra, she moves towards the position that to build a right society, you must start out with a foundation of doing the right thing even if it isn’t the most efficient means of reaching a better society.
Laik is analytical and sometimes unempathetic. She’s used to order and hierarchy, to following orders without question, to getting things done. When it comes to the human side of the story, to the harm and restrictions inflicted on those who won’t follow the Governor, she blocks it out, promising herself that once this is done, once the new society is functioning, the unsavoury parts of it can be fixed. But when things worsen her coping mechanism breaks in spectacular fashion.
Laik is one of the earlier characters I knew I needed, and she’s appeared in several guises in previous stories, and in fact the name I’ve picked for her reflects this – previous versions of this character in different attempts at the story have always had names beginning with L. Laik’s interactions with Fiarra will form a key part to exploring the core theme of justice. At times she’ll be a foil to Fiarra, at other times they will find themselves reluctant allies, and at other times they will be very strongly opposed. In these respects, Laik is almost more important than the Governor, who merely presents a fous for the story, an antagonist, a context for the multi-layered conflict between Fiarra and Laik.
The Mine Director
Prentor is a few rungs down the ladder from Laik, and he manages the mine where Fiarra begins the story as a slave. When the slaves escape, Prentor makes it back to headquarters and keeps his head down, working under Laik’s supervision.
Prentor is driven primarily by fear – fear of what will happen if he does his job badly, if he speaks out against what he believes to be wrong, if he opposes the Governor. So his default position it to not draw attention to himself. He makes judgements based on what he things will do him the least harm. Morally, I’m using him as a parallel to Laik as far as Fiarra is concerns – their storylines are similar but their motivations different, and thus how Fiarra sees their situations is different.
Belon is the Governor’s second in command for military consideration. He’s in charge of keeping what firearms they have out of enemy hands, training their people in fighting, and finding alternative weapons for use by those who can’t have a firearm.
Belon believes very strongly in the Governor’s cause. He would like it if those who oppose the Governor would join them, but if they fight him, he’ll fight back. He’s quite pragmatic and a calming influence on the Governor, and initially it seems to Fiarra that he’ll be most likely to turn against the Governor, but this is never to be, and he remains loyal to her.
I’m using Belon as a humanising influence within the Governor’s side, and a balance at different points in the story to both the Governor and Laik, a contrasting figure. I’ve not really worked Belon out yet – he’s the last character I’ve added as yet – so I’ll have to develop him more when writing.