Season 1 Extras
A huge, Class Five thank you to my family, because without them, I absolutely would have gone insane. Especially my brother. My parents are my core support system, but my brother is my co-conspiratory partner-in-crime. I thank God every day for all of them.
And a big thank you to all the kind, wonderful souls who amused me weekly with their comments and reactions on the Discord, sharing memes, casting predictions, and rooting for ’Zalie! I really loved seeing other people enjoy this story, and it kept me going through the stink and tedium of editing.
The following section contains a lot of spoilers! Do not read if you haven't finished the book!
The Design: Azalea was the easiest character to design; her image popped straightaway into my head and was there to stay. Scarlet cloak with a hood, elegant and organic shapes for her plate armor, a mix of classy practical clothing with not-so-practical flowery accents. A lot of her design elements reference azaleas: petal-like chiffon, ruffle-edges of the armor, earthy and warm tones. She looks very vanilla anime fantasy, but eh, that's my whole vibe anyway.
The Name: I always knew I wanted to name her after a flower. No deep reason behind it, I just think flower names are pretty. So I Googled a big list of flowers and picked one that I liked. Fairwen doesn't reference anything in particular, I just thought it sounded nice. Her name was a very no thoughts head empty process.
The Design: Echo's design is a cross between a “white wolf” concept and a good ol' RPG rogue. Since he has mana sensing that's similar to being a bloodhound, he also gets striking red accents here and there.
The Name: I always wanted Echo's stage name to be some stylish-sounding noun. For his real name, I wanted it to start with an A, so that he can thematically fit in with Azalea's family at the end of the book. Aron was chosen. Valence was just picked randomly. Apparently it can refer to the chemistry term of an element's combining power? So if we stretched this really far, we could say he's the kind of person who's stronger with others and his power comes through connections? Nah, let's just leave it as the convenient, random, vaguely European aristocratic surname it was meant to be.
The Design: I always wanted Wes to look like the typical steampunk inventor, so there he is, with a few Airlean flourishes on his shorts and suspenders. I struggled with a motif that ties into his fairytale, because logs and lumber sound about as aesthetic as dirt. Then I realized that woodworking can mean leaves, trees, and plants! So he turned into one foresty boy.
The Name: I have a list of names that I happen to like, and Wesley is one of them. It can be both cute and dignified depending on the circumstances, much like Wes. Geppett is pulled directly from the name Geppetto in the tale Pinocchio.
The Design: Originally, Karis was design started with the question, “What if I designed a Fire Emblem pegasus knight?” Hence the wing accessory, flowing shapes, and strong but feminine look. The design then expanded to a Death Lotus concept, but since all-black felt too edgy, I tried a pink base with black accents. When the design lacked cohesion and contrast, I started from scratch with a Sugar Plum Fairy concept, where the aeshetic was primarily based off of a photo of plum blossoms in the snow. Hints of her design, like the pattern on her tunic, hair piece, and blossom-spotted tights also reference Yuerai to honor her Yueraian father.
The Name: Karis's name origin is a funny story. I've always liked the name Karis, and I assigned it to this character, thinking that it meant “grace” as in “elegance” or “graceful.” Later my brother informed me that it actually meant “grace” as in “kindness” or “mercy.” Which is all very ironic, because she is the least forgiving and most resentful character in the cast. Oh well, we can just pretend that it's deliberate comedy.
Hilarious side note: apparently, the ancient Greek symbol of grace was the ocean wave. A possible accidental hint of her preferred ship...?
The Design: I gave Halcyon's design a lot of traits that I personally enjoy: East Asian elements, dark hair, ocean blue colors. Bird feathers and braided cords call back to the bird origin of his fairytale and name. He wears a tunic and wields a guandao from Yuerai, which is his godmother's country of origin.
The Name: As a character inspired by the Ugly Duckling, I wanted to pick a bird-based name for him. Halcyon rose to the top fairly quickly. Not only is it a kingfisher found throughout Asia and Africa, but it's also the name of a mythical Greek bird that nested on the sea. Altogether, it felt like the perfect name. Yuden comes from Halcyon's godmother, Nali Yuden. You might learn more about her in Season Two :)
The Design: Azure basically just looks like a Monster Hunter character, because he sort of is. I wanted him to look threatening and very much fitting in the Noadic Range environment. As a counterpart to the blue ribbon on Azalea's left wrist, which reminds her of Azure, he wears a red ribbon around his left arm, which reminds him of Azalea. Both of the siblings remove these ribbons after Season One, since they're signs of guilt and vengeance more than anything actually good.
The Name: Azure's name is actually pronounced as it looks with a solid Z (æz ər), not the zhj blend of the normal word (æʒ ər). I like how it sounds, and then it can match with Azalea. Americans come up with divergent pronunciations all the time because we're contrary folk, don't tell me I can't do that.
I'm still finalizing the designs on other cast members, but wanted to provide some quick comments on them!
NICOLINA COTTON is based off of Thumbelina, but she will absolutely clock misbehaving Hunters with the chancla. The balance of her practical formalwear and over-the-top ornate badge and cape is reminiscent of historical military uniforms.
SETHIS GALEN LUNAREN was made to look like the exact stereotypical Prince Charming: fair hair, piercing blue-green eyes, and a white base with a royal blue accent. The problem? Most of the appearances I tried looked like a variant Dimitri for Fire Emblem Heroes. Oh well, I've just accepted it, because I really like how Sethis looks. IntSys can't have a monopoly on the fair-haired charming prince stereotype.
HEIDI WATERCRESS is designed as the midpoint between cottagecore, alchemist witch, and lettuce. Don't know exactly what that means, but I think this is a rather accurate depiction of it.
After I designed the weapons, I commissioned @end_spire to translate them into 3D models. She did an amazing job! I fully recommend her and am also sorry she had to deal with my wonky weapon topography.
Scarlet Rider had a very simple start, and that was simply asking the question, “What if Red Riding Hood was also the huntsman?”
It looked completely different at the beginning. If you can believe it, Echo had no sass whatsoever. He was the archetypical quiet wolf dude, and Azalea was a confident, chivalrous woman—actually a bit like Lilian or Karis. But trying to write those two characters on the same page, I found they had the character chemistry of dirt. So I went back to square one and formed characters that were closer to the original fairytale: a younger and more innocent Red Riding Hood, and a sly and glib Big Bad Wolf.
I was stuck for several months on the nature of the story, running into dead end after dead end, not knowing what to do with these freshly minted and charming characters. They were all in this generic, vaguely European fantasy world, doing their own thing.
It wasn't until my brother suggested, “Why don't you turn Airlea from a low fantasy world to a high fantasy world?” that everything broke open. Thus manacrafting was born, and with the power and dangers of manacrafting, the core conflict of a catastrophic magical Storm. Thank you, brother dear.
- The hardest chapter to write was Ch 45: Sovendyret. It took three full rewrites from scratch and at least five heavy cutting and editing sessions, and I didn't break past the barrier until I played Monster Hunter for the first time (LOL). Roughly 15,000 – 20,000 words have died in the making of that single chapter.
- The so far revealed countries in this world are Airlea, the agriculture nation; Atlantis, the ocean nation; Kahu Tei, the nation of flying isles; Yuerai, the eastern nation; and Zuhad, the desert nation.
- The entirety of Scarlet Rider was written on the iPhone. Some people are impressed when they hear I exclusively write on the phone, others scandalized. But to me, once you get used to it, it's just another tool. I have ADHD, so the utter distraction-free minimalism of Ulysses for mobile is the best way for me to write.
What happens next?
Season Two, The Rise of Atlantis, is currently under writing. At the time of this post, there's 32,000 words in the manuscript. I'll post the Season Two teaser page with character introductions at some point in the future! It seems many readers have grown attached to ’Zalie, which is a big honor—but fear not, the Scarlet Rider cast is heavily involved in Season Two.
Other than that, keep an eye out for the digital release for iBooks and Kindle, and the printed run Kickstarter later this year! The story will remain online and completely free to read, but any purchases of digital and physical copies will support me as the author, and by extension, future merch and books. No pressure.