Braden of Sinon

The setting of Sinon and the three principal characters are grabbing me, all of which I have now made Lego models of. Here’s a shot of thieves’ guild of Sinon run by Irma, a benevolent but cruel river dragon who runs the guild disguised as an old tall woman with perfect teeth and long silver hair.

Braden tending the bar in the corner of the common space (beside the cups). He enjoys tending bar, socializing, and most of all, doing business and sharing information with sources. He is popular in the Nymean quarter of Sinon for his time spent building housing for the homeless on guild property. At the heart of the Nymean quarter of the city is The Scales, a tavern and secret headquarters of 203 member thieves and lesser criminals looking for work and good society. Braden is a master in the guild. He handles adventures outside town, in neighbouring city states, such as gold and precious stones prospecting and banditry. He is the most proficient fighter in the guild except Jin, the guild’s master of assassins.

Braden was a minifigure in a playset that included a dragon and her lair on the second storey. He trains and mentors my main character of the Sinon series of short stories I’m working on, the first of which is published to this blog as the post “A Psychic Rises in Sinon.” Braden mentors Portia, a street thief with a few skills mastered and a warren of her own child thieves she looks after. Portia reads minds, and uses her abilities to great advantage when it comes to setting up a blackmailing operation in the guild.

Portia in her work clothes: leather armour neck to boots. She finds when she wears heavier armour she can’t read minds. She can read the mind of anyone she can see. She is only 16, not full grown, and her powers are still developing. She doesn’t know how to do much more than read minds. But she will learn to send thoughts, implant them, disguise them, possess people, control them. And she learns to use a dagger and a buckler at Braden’s insistence. She’s too frail to make a warrior, but Irma is at war with Selene’s guild and its evil practices, so Portia has to be able to defend herself, at least until help comes. In coming years, Portia will not need to use physical force but retains her training regimen with Braden for it’s own sake.

Braden began his life as a soldier in the army of Dashan, a neighbouring city state’s and was out of work when peace came to Dashan. He had no skills, couldn’t read, was too old to apprentice to a tradesperson–so he became a thief. A violent, terrifying one. He clashed first with a district crime lord for robbing on her territory. He killed the gang of armed, armoured thugs sent to see him out of the city, dead or alive. He fought and killed the city guard sent to arrest him. The Prince’s own elite guard were sent to kill a clear menace to everyone in Sinon.

Braden in his expensive green leather armour. He never replaces it, just keeps mending it. He stands six feet two, very well built, unkempt hair. In his teens he would have self-destructed if not for the welcoming arms of Irma and her guild. He learned and mastered dozens of skills rapidly, learned to read and write, began to read books Irma gave him. By his early twenties he had developed an interest in prospecting after his work at banditry of heavily guarded gold shipments from mines. He took time away from banditry to begin prospecting himself, partnering with a middle-aged prospector named Elenor Raines, who didn’t mine, only prospected and bought the land to sell to actual miners. Braden asked for a year’s leave from his post as head of external ventures for the guild to learn prospecting under Elenor’s wing in return for serving as her bodyguard.

Braden fascinates me because he’s an unrepentant killer, mugger, burglar, and he’s used violence and killed poor people who were only trying to keep what was theirs. He targeted the rich for burglaries, which got the Prince’s royal guard hunting in the streets like rabid dog. His violent ways just didn’t translate into crime that was very likely to go unnoticed. But, he has grown another side of himself. He is also a lover. Loves the poor. He works passionately on projects to help the poor, from feeding them to housing them. Irma considers Braden’s projects good public relations for The Scales and the guild.

Green and black leather armour. You can see the power in his build. Brute force and violence filled his early years of criminal life. Irma taught him, aimed him at her enemies, and allowed him to foster a city with a heart. The gold medallion denotes his membership in the guild of 203 thieves of Sinon.

Braden is to Portia, another violent soul, what Irma was to Braden. He sees himself in Portia, a violent person that takes from others with brute force. She takes thoughts. He took property and lives. No one could stop either of them. But his violent ways brought him trouble he couldn’t deal with. He isn’t sure what threats exist to Portia in the realm of the mind that she moves in but fears her own powers may corrupt her. Make her a victimizer without qualification, without limit. Braden didn’t like killing innocent people. Didn’t like who he was. He fears Portia will become someone she and all would hate. Braden is confidant to her, moral compass, and tutor in fighting and the various arts of criminal enterprise. Braden sees in Portia a natural leader, as he has found himself to be, mentoring many young warriors and thieves.

Braden, great sword that he handles like a longsword.

Braden has many adventures with Portia, taking her prospecting with him, learning to enjoy conversations with her. Helping her work out how to make the most of her power, use the information she could get so easily. A rift developed between the pair the first time Portia sent a thought to Braden. He’d always assumed he’d been safe from her mind reading, when in fact she routinely read everyone’s mind. Anyone’s. She was not yet a very moral person. The practice emerged from a mother cat’s need to take care of a litter of twenty thief cats and see if they were misbehaving or lying to her, getting into trouble, taking foolish risks out of greed.

Braden is startled when she sends him a message telepathically, her first send: simply “I love you.” She does so without meaning to, a new function of her psychic abilities, but Braden feels violated. Asks her if she has read his mind. She admits she has always done so and did with everyone. A long talk later, their relationship had changed slightly, but permanently, and Portia always felt the pain of that change. It taught her that she was really stealing when she read others minds. It was her moral epiphany. Don’t steal from friends. Steal from the wealthy. Her first moral principle.

Yes. Braden as I’ve built him looks different than the minifigure who looked like an Indiana Jones type of adventurer. He’s evolved as a character in my mind, and the warrior part of him took over, helping me shape his appearance. I gave him a warrior’s body, bare arms, black hair, changed almost everything about his appearance. But he’s still Braden to me in essence. The character survived the transition.

Braden is a little like the character from A History of Violence, a reformed nicer criminal. No longer a barbarian but a man becoming cultivated under Irma’s watch. Irma made of Braden not only a master thief but a good master of thieves, collector of secrets, extender of influence, exchanger of favours, and murderer still. Banditry is still within his brief. And he has no issues with killing armed guards of merchant caravans.

Braden and Portia. Master and apprentice. Braden is forty as built, Portia only sixteen.

I’ll be writing at least a few stories of Portia, my main character in the Sinon stories, and Braden will certainly be in them!

Portia immobilizes her mentor by will alone before he lays hands on her.

Please read the post “A Psychic Rises to Sinon,” a short story intended for print publication.

Happy New Year dear readers!

Mark from Toronto.

PS. Oh, I should plug my editing service. I edited fantasy fiction for Harlequin’s fantasy imprint Luna Books for years and am available for hire to help you get your manuscript in good shape to interest an editor or agent. I can be found here:

https://reedsy.com/mark-stanski

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